tv Tavis Smiley PBS April 5, 2011 12:30am-1:00am EDT
tavis: been, first up tonight, a conversation with stephen farrell. farrell and three others were released by the regime and made it back safely to the united states. ofwill look at the life dr. manning marable. he was scheduled to be on this program in just days. the book is being hailed as the most comprehensive look at the life of malcolm x. the posthumous release, we are glad to have joined us. a look back at an earlier . late dr.
manning marable. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment, one sat eronme ontia . >> nationwide is on your side >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- tavis: stephen farrell is a reporter for the new york times
that was recently conducted and beaten by forces loyal to gaddafi. he joins us tonight from new york. good to have you on this program, sir. let me start by asking how is he why is that having been up the kid twice before in your career, having obviously survived the both of those deductions and being free at later point, you are still doing this. this is the third time this has happened to you. why are you still doing this? >> that is a conversation i am having with my family and colleagues. realistically, for it to happen three times within a few years, i am definitely going to take a step back. it would be slightly perverse to continue tempting fate. i was doing it up until now.
i will continue to do stories in the middle east. it is probably unwise for me to go back any time soon. tavis: tell me more about this particular ordeal in libya. >> this was unusual. or we know the risks when we do the job. we are trying to get beyond the he said, she said general wisdom. let's say the government or whoever, the rebels are telling you this. make up your own mind, mo vaughn, bland journalism. we are trying to cut through that and get through it to you can see that this is what they are saying. it is not true. this is what this side is saying, it is partly true. in print and in still photographs, you are trying to cut througtithe fog of war and bring clarity to these situations.
at the time when a large portion of the country is seeking freedom from a dictator, there is a time when our own countries are thinking about bringing blood and treasure to bear on this. it seems to me in to us an entirely valid exercise in journalism to try to get through to the heart of these issues. tavis: tell me about your personal journey that you put your life on the line this way? something i started off thinking that i wanted to be a war correspondent. conflict is part of being a foreign correspondent, spending long hours talking to politicians is another part of it. spending hours in cairo during the egyptian revolution, not
particularly dangerous, is another possibility. war is part of what i do. i suppose it started off because of a historical accident. i'm irish and i was working for british newspapers. they said, you are irish, go to northern ireland. kosovo is quite similar. then i was posted to jerusalem and the middle east when the iraq war began. it happened on my watch. i don't have a choice, i could have walked away. it felt wrong to train in journalism and spend years churning -- learning short hand and gaining experience of the language and culture for jordan,
iraq, and to walk away and say, i don't fancy this. i am happy to shoulder the lighter burden. tavis: for those following the story of enough to know, there was a journalist captured and beaten. can you tell me specifically what happened? >> we were covering the eastern part of th under gaddafi's control. the rebels had started to lie about where the front line was. they started to say they have retaken this town, and we are on a roll, and it is impossible to stay back 100 miles back from the front line and know what was going on. we went down to the front line. it was much quicker than we expected. i was trying to get to the back entrance and back to safety.
tavis: there is an old adage the casualties of war is usually the truth. the first casualties of war is usually the truth. you're rewarded -- you reported on how the notion was? >> i have not found government in peace time particularly tprone to telling the truth. for both sides concerned, let me give you an example. we were talking on the frontline, the day we were captured. your useful to me, you are useful to my enemy. the way he passed it was, if we are showing rebel casualties, if
we are in hospital, if we are showing the rebels be an effective, we are useful to them. if we are showing them on the retreat as we did, we are not useful to them. in fact, the morning in the day before. they said that we were giving away their positions whether intentionally or not. it is a dangerous environment and the truth is sometimes useful to one side or another. tavis: tell me what you feel when you think you're about to be shot. is that year energy for you? what do you do with that fear?
>> there is no thrill here. obviously, you are at risk whenever you go to these situations. there is no thrill. it is not a situation i like. for me personally, i don't tend to feel fear some much. my mind is going so fast, you're constantly calculating. when a guy is pointing a raffle at my head -- a rifle at my head, what is the best way to talk him down. we throw a journalist at him, may be american. it is a cliche. your mind is racing at a different speed. what will get me out of this? right up until the moment when the trigger is pulled, you are trying to work it.
there is kind of no point in being afraid. if you freeze, you're certainly going to die. if you try to work it, you are possibly or probably going to die. tavis: the example and that you gave about what happened to you specifically is underscored by the fact that we are talking about each, libya, other places. there have been any number of stories that indicate that these persons that were involved in these with foreign journalists. what is the tension that exists with foreign journalists in particular? >> probably the most dangerous thing to be is a libyan journalist or a driver. our own driver that was with us when we were inducted is still missing. we do not know what has happened
to him. i spoke to others of libyan background that said they are much more prone to hit them hard and come down harder on them than others that fortunately have foreign passports that make them think twice. to take that point about foreigners, westerners are deeply suspicious. the story broke that the cia had people on the ground in libya. i am thankful that story broke after we had been released, because that puts suspicion in their mind anyway. i heard them shouting words at us on the ground, spy, we were screaming back, journalist. believe we might be agents of a foreign government. that has been stoked by the gaddafi regime. we saw libyan tv, they kept
using the words colonial christian conspiracy. they are trying to stoke up a population. some of it is going to permeates even if you don't necessarily support the regime. it is not just foreign journalists in the sense of western. al jazeera, egyptian journalists, they are treated with even more suspicion because they know they can speak arabic and read maps. they have a deep suspicion of them. tavis: i am delighted you are alive and that you took time to talk to us tonight. and you're talking to your family about what you will do going forward. the key for sharing your insights? -- thank you for sharing your insights. coming up, dr. manning marable,
he did not live to see released today. stay with us. dr. manning marable was a giant in the field of black studies serving as the director of the institute for research of african-american studies at columbia. on friday, he passed away at the age of 60 just a few days before the release of his long-awaited biography on malcolm x. the book is in stores today and it is being denie definitive text on the life of the iconic black activists. dr. marable was going to join us in just a few days. instead, we will revisit my conversation with him from 2006 on the release of a previous pact. as fate would have it, scott king was later arrested atlanta. today happens to be forty third
anniversary of dr. king's assassination. we covered a lot of around that night has what he saw was an incomplete telling. nice to have you on the program. let me start with the sad news of the day and we will move on to how we can build upon the legacy left by scott king. she was laid to rest. your thoughts on the legacy in the living black history that they contributed to. >> they will go down in the annals of american history as a woman of remarkable courage and endurance. without her vision and commitment to the ideals of her husband, we would not today have the dr. martin luther king jr. national holiday. we would not have the infrastructure, and i believe
history will show that she was truly an equal partner with dr. king and in many ways, when the tomb at -- two met several years prior, she was more progressive and more political than martin was. her partnership and her ideas helped shape his evolution. in many ways, more than most people are aware. tavis: beyond the point that is very significant, he reminded us that she went carving out her own legacy. tell me how difficult that was that a lot of the guys she was standing next to, his name was martin king. how do you live in that kind of shadow? >> is extremely difficult.
what i would liken it to is the relationship with the close friendship that has been cultivated. there is a parallel to its. they had the toughest civil- rights job in the united states. when he was shot in front of his family home in 1963, he instantly became a civil rights legend and icon. how do you assert yourself as an active and involved civil-rights person in the way that he was? in the wake of that terrible loss, king faced a similar dynamic. for her, it was even more
daunting because he was a worldwide figure. he was perhaps one of the three or four most influential figures on the earth. his speeches were read by millions and mesmerized by millions of people. how do you assert yourself? in an early taste and then her case, -- in an early case and her case, they asserted themselves around practical tasks to make sure that the husband's ideals will live on. tavis: let me ask what the value of the black history is? every february -- i see the graph on your face. don't ask me how we chose the coldest, darkest, shortest month of the year, that notwithstanding, what is the value of us pausing to talk
about black history? i want to know your perspective for black folks and those that are not black. >> we live history every day, ut black vofolk and white folk have talked about history in radically different days. white americans have emphasized the use of such as individual liberty and the ownership of private property as part of the american dream. for african-americans, we have always understood that there was no such thing as an individual slave rebellion launched by a single person. that freedom was always a collective project, and from that point on, as we construct our memories of the past, white racism has always sought to discredit or to literally
destroy evidence of atrocities and racial injustice. black history's logic has been to build a capacity in an argument for the freedom hall, not just for african americans, for anyone regardless of socioeconomic class or gender. i tried to document innumerable examples of how black history is being lost and being destroyed. part of that has to do with the suppression of black history. i give a lot of examples. tulsa, okla., i spoke at the university of tulsa. here is a city in the middle of america, 1921, thousands of african-americans were burned out of their homes and several hundred were killed. this racial atrocity was suppressed for over 60 years.
in new york city, as they expanded the federal courthouse, down into the bedrock of manhattan island, they discovered 19,000 corpses of african people that had been buried over a century. today's african burial ground. this is a metaphor for the contestation hope that history always is in a racialist society. we were the first stock on the stock exchange. african people go to the wall of wall street. if you go back in time and past,ogate america's african americans are at the heart of the american experience building in part much of the wealth upon which the society has been produced. that is why there is an effort to [unintelligible]
tavis: there is this notion that for white folk and black folk, we see the freedom struggle differently. i am fascinated by the fact that freedom has always a collective project. the white guy recognized me and said to me, why was it that black folks have done so well individually? they started running the names of the folks that have done well. why do we struggle so much as a collective? we have to introduce him to the concept of structural racism. >> 300 years ago, we had a triangle of racism. it brought millions of african people to the new world. it connected africa, america, and europe.
i talk about the color blind racism of the twenty first century. it links mass unemployment, mass incarceration, and massive disenfranchisement. the history of the future that is being made now is structuring a future for black folks to remove us from civic conversation had a democratic institutions, to limit or reduce millions of people from having voting rights. now you have a state like mississippi where 30% of black males have lost the right to vote for life. tavis: it sounds like they know exactly who they are targeting. >> it seems that way. we live under a very different kind of racial domain. 50 years ago, the history that martin and about some had to
encounter, it was quite different from the color blind racism of the twenty first century. in a way, jim crow was always a curse and a person blessing. -- perverse blessing. in the unity of our oppression, we felt a kinship of what a political scientist refers to as a link to fate. we were all a far -- apart of a collective thing. we talk about how important it is to document those struggles of the black freedom movement of the 1960's. and that so many of these artifacts of the civil rights are actually being lost. i talk about an example from the classic book, the autobiography
of malcolm x how there will be at three chapters being removed from the text and where those chapters ended up. virtually no one has ever seen. and how his political legacy is in complete in part due to the in gentrification of black history. investors that can hold on to them and market them for their own value rather than putting them in a library or archive and making them available to school children. and for future generations. tavis: future generations will have a fuller and more complete and complex understanding of malcolm x. thanks to dr. marable's acclaimed new text. the book has been called his magnum opus.
on his passing, dr. marable was the grande radical democratic intellectual. he kept alive the socialist tradition in the black freedom movement. that is our show for tonight. good night from los angeles, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org tavis: join me next time for the view of the conflict in libya from europe. we will see you then. allfi i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every